Report critical of how CCSD distributes funds, could shortchange schools

Local News

A new study by the Nevada Department of Education finds that the way CCSD is allocating funds may be hurting schools in lower socioeconomic areas.

In the 100-page report, the Nevada Department of Education explores the Clark County School District’s current funding. The conclusion — not all students in the valley are getting the resources that they need and deserve.

The report comes after the 2015 legislative session. Assembly Bill 469 required the Department of Education to look at the reorganization of the district, specifically CCSD’s distribution of funds.

It explains the current budgeting process. The average teacher salary across the district determines how much each individual school gets to pay its salaries. The report explains that the current practice is inequitable.

“If you have a group of teachers who earn less than average, you don’t get to keep the difference,” said Steve Canavero, state superintendent of public instruction, Nevada. “If you’re at a school that has higher than average costs, it’s made up for by those schools that are lower.” 

Some schools, like magnet schools get  extra funding. But schools serving students in low socio-economic areas, don’t.

Many of those schools have large populations of students that need more resources — students in poverty, at-risk, or English-learners.

For the past 10 years, David Tatlock has taught in valley schools with large populations of at-risk students and English learners.

“It ends up shorting the students that probably need the most funding,” he said. “There’s a lot more heartbreaking issues you come across.”

Superintendent Jesus Jara has overseen the school district a little more than a month. He says, the issue isn’t specific to CCSD, it’s nationwide.

“The exciting piece is that it’s documented and then how do we partner with our teacher’s union and the legislature to address a problem that is around the country?”

Ruben Murillo is the president of NSEA, one of two teachers’ unions in the valley. For him, the solution isn’t simple.

“A lot of people are proposing that depending on how many students you have, depending on if they’re free and reduced lunch, weighted funded formulas, that the money should follow those students to those schools (17) and while that’s a great idea, we should take a look at. It should not be at the expense of other schools,” said Murillo said.

He described is a per-pupil budgeting model. And it is what the Department of Education recommends.

“We know we can do better as a state and we know we can move toward a more equitable funding system within Clark,” Canavero said.

The report acknowledges that the switch would be disruptive to some schools but would result in greater equity overall.

This CCSD teacher agrees.

“Students that have a little more to overcome, to achieve, it’s natural, it’s logical to think we got to give them a little more help, give staff a little more help,” Tatlock said.

The Nevada Department of Education is requiring CCSD to create a funding equity working group to develop and implement a per-pupil funding model. Initially Aug. 1 was the deadline, but it’s been put on hold, awaiting national support from the U.S. Department of Education.

The state Department of Education says it will look to other districts in the country that have facilitated the funding transition.

It adds that the report is about how funds are distributed — not the amount of funds available — noting that they’re both important, but separate conversations.

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